Tom, though, is the antithesis of the hot-headed chef stereotype. He oversees our food with an air of calm, kindness and mutual respect for his staff that makes the Scarlet kitchen the warm and welcoming heart of this hotel.
“Everyone who works here loves going into the kitchen,” says hotel general manager Meeche Hudd, “and that’s so unusual for a hotel.
“If one of our wider team pops in, instead of getting her head blown off for ‘getting in the way,’ one of the chefs will say, ‘try this’.”
Perhaps Tom is so mellow because he started his career in the fast and furious kitchens of a 600 room hotel near Heathrow’s north runway, then worked in a massive production kitchen producing 50,000 meals a day – all with the roar of 650 planes-a-day flying overhead.
Then, after a stint creating dishes for Concorde and British Airways’ first class passengers, the lure of Cornwall – remembered from childhood holidays – got the better of him.
“Working for Concorde was fascinating,” he says. “No expense was spared on ingredients, and I was able to work with the finest products, got to work in the bakery and the special diets kitchen – but I always had my eye on Cornwall and the Scarlet.
Now he works for us, it’s seagulls he hears swooping overhead, not 747s.
And as executive chef of both the Scarlet and Bedruthan Hotel & Spa, he brings to our three restaurants his deep passion for technical detail and his exacting standards for serving only the best, freshest, most seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients.
Tom is the reason you’ll discover something deliciously out of the ordinary on your dinner plate when you dine with us.
“I’ve worked here five years now, and it’s been an amazing challenge. Our food has progressed and is more consistent than ever. We’re now looking at creating an even healthier balance within our menus, and still always thinking about our impact on the planet. We’ve always taken our vegetarian food seriously, and are now experimenting with raw foods, which is fascinating.”
What’s it like to work under an executive chef like Tom? We asked pastry chef Jess Everdene.
“Tom is calm, kind and knowledgeable. He’s a pleasure to work for and be around. His kitchen is like no other I’ve experienced.
“Tom makes the Scarlet kitchen a place you really want to be part of. The team has fun. We all get on really well and you can feel this collective passion in the air for creating excellent food, and Tom’s behind all that.”
Tom’s managed to fit in a lot of great experience between his time working near busy Heathrow Airport to his arrival here with us and the quiet and calm of the Scarlet.
When he first moved to Cornwall, he decided to take a step back in position and responsibility after Concorde.
“I took a commis chef job at a little hotel in South East Cornwall, The Well House. I knew the hotel well from my holidays in the county and remembered having an exceptional meal there once.
“Life in Cornwall and at the hotel suited me very much, and I was content. I progressed through the ranks and was Sous Chef within a year. I had a great working relationship with Glenn Gatland, the head chef , and when he decided to move on, he very kindly recommended me for the Head Chef position there.
“It was my first head chef job. I was 29 years old. The hotel had an excellent reputation for its food, built up over the 20 years it had been open. There was a massive amount of pressure to maintain standards.
“We worked hard as a team, and nine months after I was made head chef, in January 2008, we were awarded 3 rosettes by the AA.
“It was a really proud moment for me and the team. We kept the rosettes until I left in 2010 to take up the position of Head Chef at Warpool Court Hotel in St Davids, Pembrokeshire – a stunning part of West Wales.
“That was a happy time for me personally, as my first son was born there. While I was still working hard, I was able to spend some quality time with my family. We had a great 18 months in Wales, working for some wonderful people. But were ready to move back to Cornwall and I was keen to experience working for this amazing luxury eco hotel I’d heard so much about – the Scarlet.
Influences now and over the years are chefs and restaurants like Rick Stein, for what he has achieved. Nathan Outlaw, Paul Ainsworth and Chris Eden for really putting Cornwall on the map for fine dining. But my food style is probably more influenced by chefs like Bruce Poole and Matt Christmas of Chez Bruce or Antony Demetre of Arbutus in Soho (now closed). The best meals of my memory have been Gidleigh Park while Michael Caines was cooking there and Michael Wignall at The Latymer in Surrey. Coincidently Michael Wignall is now the chef at Gidleigh Park.